Mayor de Blasio: New Wood-Burning Fireplaces Should Be Banned in NYC

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 05:31 PM

By Sharon Churcher

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing to regulate the wood-burning fireplaces that are a beloved feature of tens of thousands of the city's older homes.

Undeterred by the outrage over several of his other high-profile initiatives — notably, a ban on Central Park's horse-drawn carriages — the liberal Democrat wants to outlaw the installation of new hearths that use wood.

The New York Post reported that the proposal is part of a package of rules designed to improve air quality in the city.

New fireplaces must use "cleaner-burning" fuels than wood, such as natural gas. And though New Yorkers won't be forced to get rid of existing fireplaces, they must use logs with a moisture content that is less than 20 percent. Moist wood, officials in the mayor's administration explained, releases more toxins than the drier variety.

Speaking at an Earth Day event on Tuesday, de Blasio contended that the changes are in line with the city's reputation for "leading the nation when it comes to protecting the health and safety of our environment."

"Today's reforms — the biggest in a generation — will make a fundamental difference for thousands of New Yorkers living with asthma, and pave the way for other cities around the nation to follow suit."

The new regulations may be costly for business. Char-broilers in commercial kitchens that cook more than 875 pounds of meat or seafood a week must install emission devices. Pizzerias that use coal or wood will be ordered to fit filters. Penalties will be slapped on food delivery drivers and street vendors who use diesel engines rather than electric.

Crains New York said some of the new regulations are an "update" to a sweeping environmental proposal called "PlaNYC" that was proposed by de Blasio's predecessor, Mike Bloomberg.

"Mr. de Blasio often criticized Mr. Bloomberg during his campaign for mayor, but applauded his efforts to green the city and expand its environmental programs," Crains said.

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